On the morning of March 3, the T-Mobile Arena hosts the UFC 235 tournament, in which the main fight of the lightweight champion (93 kg) will hit John Jones with Anthony Smith. Prosports.kz presents a preview of the upcoming event.
Great and terrible
The 31-year-old Bones successfully returned to the business at the end of December last year when Alexander Gustafsson finished and returned to his belt, which he had never lost in the Octagon. It seemed that the spectators would finally see the third duel between Jones and Daniel Cormier or the transition of the champion to a heavy weight, where he would open new horizons. But one of the best fighters in the history of MMA was not looking for money fights but opted to stay light heavyweight and give Anthony Smith a chance.
From a sporting perspective, Jones has done everything right, because apart from Smith, there are no major contenders for the championship gold. Cormier does not want to go to Octagon without proper financial motivation. Gustafsson has lost to John twice. Volkan Ozdemir was on the candidate list, but suffered two defeats in a row. There is also a promising Dominic Rice, but the 29-year-old fighter wins only light heavyweight and does not pose a real threat to the champion. And Smith remained on the list, a 30-year-old fighter from Omaha.
In MMA Smith made his debut in February 2008, but the fighter's record over the years can not be described as impressive – 31-13. Most defeats he suffered in the context of the average weight (84 kg), in which he played almost his entire career. Only in June last year decided a large fighter (193 cm) to test as light heavyweight. The transition benefited Smith, and he scored three straight wins. He beat two retirees (Shogun Rua and Rashad Evans) and Ozdemir.
Like many other fighters, Smith did not find the world of mixed martial arts a better life. He was raised by his mother and grandfather. In adolescence, Smith had to leave school to find work. At the same time he was having problems with alcohol. In addition, the future UFC fighter has been repeatedly called by the Nebraska police to combat and violence. Ryan Thompson, a close friend of Smith's, said that Anthony drunk a lot at the beginning of his career and only stopped to gain weight for the fight. In 2009, the passion for drinking Smith almost cost a life – he had a car accident, but miraculously survived.
In addition to the fighting career Anthony was working as a concrete worker. Incidentally, he did not quit this job until 2016, when he was contracted for the second time in the UFC. In parallel, the applicant worked for the title of a window installation company. Much has changed in 2011, when the fighter became a father. After that, Smith calmed down and started a career. In 2013, Lionheart debuted with a defeat in the UFC, after which he was dismissed from the company. The next few years they spent with various promotions: from an unknown CFFC to Bellator. The second UFC run was better for Smith – a record 7-2 in two years. He likes to use boxing in the course of brawls and clinch elbow strikes, but he puts a lot of pressure under the great pressure his defeats have shown in the past. Smith will pose a threat to the champion in the first round, but then everything ends as the current champion wants. It is unlikely that we will see a complete fight, most likely Jones will end the fight prematurely and after the fans finally see the transition to the heavyweight category where Daniel Cormier is waiting for him.
In the week before the fight John Jones shared his expectations regarding the upcoming fight with Smith in Vegas.
"Honestly, I knew nothing about him before the training camp. Now that I've studied him, I see him as a worthy opponent. He is an outsider to everyone, but I take him very seriously. My goal is to end the fight prematurely and dominate it. I'm looking forward to a good test, "said Jones.
Woodley vs. Nightmare
If the outcome of the main battle of the evening is almost predetermined, then we are in a big duel in a competition. In welterweight champion (77 kg) Tyrone Woodley finally got a rival to Camara Usman. It's no secret that UFC President Dana White Woodley does not like it because PPV sales are low and the champion does not hide their mutual hostility. Last year, White organized an absolutely unnecessary fight for the title of Interim Champion between Rafael Dos Anjos and Colby Covington. The latter should be a trump in White's sleeve, but Colby's last speech showed he was no match for Woodley. With clumsy Treshtok and the constant mention of US President Donald Trump, Covington turned against him with his fans. So the need to fight Woodley-Colby vanished.
Tyrone resembles Jones in his approach to the case – both fighting against direct candidates in the ratings. Since 2016, Woodley has four successful belt defense mechanisms and cleared the division. Yes, the 36-year-old Tyrone has not struck any competitors in recent years, as was the case a few years ago, but now the fighter is wisely fighting and receiving minimal damage in combat. New hope for Dana White was the 31-year-old American Kamara Usman from Nigeria. Nightmare started his career recently – in 2012. In 2015, the fighter became the winner of the TUF 21st Show, after which Usman systematically climbed into the championship and overcame one opponent after another. Thanks to victories over Demian Maya and Dos Anjos, Camara received the status of major challenger. From a style perspective, Usman will be extremely hard to surprise the champion in anything.
Most of Kamara's battles end the judges' decision, and the skills of jiu-jitsu are not outstanding. You can not say that about Woodley. Tyrone is famous for its explosive power and its ability to make a victory with painful techniques. In recent years, Tyrone has learned to fight the distance and keep his strength for the last few laps. From this approach, the puncher benefited only from St. Louis.
"If we fight in the rack, I'll beat you down. When I break, I break your arm. You have nothing to beat me. I'm faster than you, I'm stronger than you, and I promise you, if you're less than one hundred percent ready, you'll remember this fight until the end of your days, "Woodley said recently, addressing Usman.
If Usman does not defeat Woodley, White must reduce the current champion against Colby Covington and not the fact that he will reject the Chosen One.
Hammer, Lawler and Cody
The upcoming tournament is interesting because the fans will not only like the main fights. The most spectacular and promising Russian, Zabit Magomedsharipov, will appear in the main battle of the early card. A modest fighter from Khasavyurt hit an American audience last year not only by his resemblance to the 16th US President Abraham Lincoln, but also by his achievements. The 27-year-old Zabit became a true discovery of a featherweight (66 kg) in 2017 and was able to further increase his success last year. For four fights in the UFC he received three bonuses for the best performance of the evening. The former ACB champion may roll up a real show, but does not fall into ruthless hacking with rivals. On March 3rd, he will face Jeremy Jeremy hard. In the last fight, 32-year-old American Jose Aldo lost in the round of 16, which is why he is extremely motivated to return to the top 5 featherweight. For Magomedsharipov, the same battle with Stevens is a great opportunity to declare yourself and break into the top ten best fighters. After defeating Jeremy, Zabit can claim the title in two games this year.
In the main map, we are also waiting for the return of the former lightweight champion (62 kg) Cody Garbrandt. The 27-year-old Cody in August last year for the second time followed the current champion TJ Dillashow, both times with crisp knockouts. To bring the fighter back into the clip, the company gave him Pedro Munez as a rival from the second half of the top 10, which is inferior to all top fighters. For Garbrandt, the coming fight is a good opportunity to return to their abilities.
Also in the main map, we are waiting for the debut of former Bellator and ONEF champ Ben Askren. The flawless grappler and freestyle wrestling champion eventually became part of the UFC and was able to prevail in welterweight champion Robbie Lawler. Robbie returns after a long break and is ready for the latest championship run of his career.
We strongly recommend that you do not miss the upcoming tournament on the morning of March 3rd. Links to the live broadcast can be found on the Prosports.kz website.